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Outgames '17 in Miami; Lech Walesa's anti-gay comments
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-03-05

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Outgames 2009. Photo by Ross Forman


\After site visits to Reykjavik, Iceland, and Miami Beach, Fla., World Outgames delegates have voted to hold the 2017 event in the U.S. city, according to Gay Star News. Paul Brummitt, chair of the selection committee, was excited about the quality of both bids: "Both cities have sent amazing bids, and their presentations really dazzled delegates." This year's Outgames will be held in Antwerp, Belgium, July 31-Aug. 11.

In Poland, Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa has shocked many by saying that gay people have no right to a prominent role in politics and that, as a minority, they need to "adjust to smaller things," according to the Boston Herald. In a TV interview, Walesa said he believes gays have no right to sit on the front benches in Parliament and, if represented at all, should sit in the back, "and even behind a wall." Some commentators have suggested that Walesa, who led the struggle against communism, has permanently harmed his legacy.

Canada's supreme court has ruled against anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott, characterizing his flyers as hate speech, Gay Star News reported. The ruling came after years of legal wrangling over a case brought against Whatcott by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) concerning flyers he distributed in 2001 and 2002.

In Turkey, Ramazan Kalkan, a member of Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association, said that his 21-year-old boyfriend, Umut Goktug Soyler, was kidnapped by Soyler's father and uncles, according to Gay Star News. Kalkan attested that during the Feb. 23 kidnapping he was attacked and threatened with death. There was still no information on the whereabouts of Soyler, and Turkish LGBT activists fear that the police is not taking the issue seriously.

In Sweden, transgender individuals who had to accept being sterilized to complete their gender changes are pushing for compensation after a change in the law, according to RawStory.com . Until last year, the operation was obligatory for trans people who wanted their sex change to be officially recognized by authorities, with their personal identity documents reflecting their new gender. However, last December a Swedish court ruled that the forced sterilizations were unconstitutional and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

Experts say that giving inmates drug-substitution treatment, needles and condoms are crucial in helping to curb addiction and HIV infection in European jails, according to RawStory.com . So far, only 60 prisons around the world conduct needle- and syringe-exchange programs, said Heino Stover, a professor at Frankfurt University. Some countries, such as Poland (for religious reasons), even forbid condom distribution in prisons, he added.

International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) President/CEO John Tanzella and IGLTA Foundation Board Chair Charlie Rounds participated in a Feb. 20 roundtable discussion at the U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. The event, "Engaging U.S. Citizen LGBT Travelers," highlighted how the Bureau of Consular Affairs provides assistance, resources and information to U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad, through U.S. embassies, consulates and online. Research has shown that the LGBT community travels at a higher frequency than the non-LGBT sector—and often to destinations that have anti-gay laws on the books.

Finland's parliamentary legal committee has voted against same-sex marriage, according to Gay Star News. On Feb. 27, a bill died on a vote with nine against and eight in favor of it, meaning it will not be proposed before the full parliament. Currently, same-sex couples can register their partnerships but have limited rights and cannot adopt their partner's children.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative party, has split with partner Saskia Halcrow after five years, according to Gay Star News. A Scottish Conservative spokesman told the Daily Express, "Sadly, Ruth and her partner separated some two months ago and they are now no longer living together. There is no one else involved. Like many couples with hectic working lives, they have simply grown apart. There is no other explanation."

Married Ugandan gay couple Lawrence Kaala and Jimmy Sswerwadda have won their case to stay in Sweden, according to Gay Star News. Kaala obtained a residency permit in Sweden after fears surfaced he would be deported back to native Uganda, which has strict anti-gay laws. In 2008, Sswerwadda left after being arrested and beaten for "promoting homosexuality"; he left Kaala, who also eventually fled after suffering physical and verbal attacks.

As New Zealand moves a step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage, a Samoan church minister in Auckland has said most Pacific Island-New Zealanders are strongly opposed to its the measure being passed, according to Radioaustralia.net .au. Word of Life Church minister Rev. Tavale Mataia told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that Pacific Island people won't accept gay marriage on religious and cultural grounds. The bill passed its first reading 80-40, with a second reading scheduled for March 13.

Newly crowned Mr. Gay Canada Danny Papadatos, 28, credits a life-threatening disease with his salvation, according to the Georgia Straight. Papadatos, who hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, won the national competition, which ran from Feb. 5-8 during WinterPRIDE at Whistler. He said that being diagnosed with cancer (twice) helped him, saying the disease helped him to slow down and evaluate his life. The Mr. Gay World competition will be held Aug. 1-5 in Antwerp, Belgium, during the World Outgames.

In Italy, a Padua teen has sued his parents for libel and defamation after having been mocked for months for being gay, according to Gay Star News. After the teen came out, his parents reportedly told him, "Your are useless, you are without a job and you are gay. You are a loser." The city's prosecutions office, Procura della Repubblica, is now investigating the case.

In Amsterdam, Netherlands, Habibi Ana—the only "official" gay bar in the world for Muslims—had to close down because it has violated the city's licensing regulations, according to Radio Netherlands. Bars in Amsterdam lose their licenses after three infringements. Habibi Ana has broken the rules more than three times, according to the Amsterdam city council, so bar had to shut down March 2.

Twitter users erupted in anger after discovering that Amazon's UK website was selling T-shirts with slogans such as "Keep Calm and Hit Her" and "Keep Calm and Rape On," according to CNN.com . The company that prints the shirts, U.S.-based Solid Gold Bomb, removed the listing after it was notified of the slogans. Solid Gold Bomb apologized, saying the slogans were computer-generated and that the company did not purposely create them.

In England, gay finance director Christopher Brown faces jail after allegedly writing 56 company checks totaling more than $250,000 to keep ex-wife Mandy Brown quiet, according to the Telegraph. He claimed that after she discovered he had been calling gay chatlines, she threatened to out him unless he agreed to what he called "excessive spending." Mandy Brown has "completely denied" her ex-husband's version of events.

Although filmmaker Travis Mathews' I Want Your Love has been receiving critical praise at film festivals, the Australian Classification Board has banned it from being screened anywhere in the country, according to Out.com . Actor James Franco (who collaborated with Matthews in his latest film, Interior. Leather Bar) created a video response said he thinks it's a "disappointment" that the board banned the film from an adult viewing audience, adding that "sex is a big part of our lives."


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